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Strattera (Atomoxetine) For Depression: Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors

Strattera is an NRI or “norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor” meaning it prevents the reuptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This drug has been found clinically effective for treating cases of ADHD. Many doctors prefer to prescribe this drug over a potent stimulant like Adderall simply because it doesn’t have any major addictive properties or potential for abuse. It also tends to have an easy discontinuation with most users reporting minimal Strattera withdrawal symptoms.

Although most people take this medication to treat their ADHD, some have found that it also may indirectly treat symptoms associated with depression. Some individuals that have tried this medication have discovered that it actually treated their depression quite well. Despite the fact that it works for some by increasing energy and improving focus, studies have not found any significant benefit for depression from Strattera.

Taking Strattera for Depression: Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor

Some have suggested that Strattera works well for off label uses of treating depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. Although it may work in some people, most studies demonstrate that it is not effective enough to get approved to treat these conditions. Most psychiatrists will only consider Strattera if you have ADHD and even if you have depression along with it, they may prescribe an SSRI medication. With that said, everyone has a different type of depression and no two people have the same brain chemistry.

Someone may end up trying this medication and it may work like a charm for boosting the person’s mood. Another individual may give Strattera a try and find that it actually makes them more depressed. This is the experimentation that must be done when it comes to treating symptoms of depression. Not all individuals have abnormally low “serotonin” which is targeted by SSRI’s. Some people may not have any problems with serotonin, but may have lower levels of norepinephrine – which is what this particular medication addresses.

It is thought that for the majority of the depressed population, only about 1 in 10 people respond to medications geared primarily towards targeting the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This is a very low percentage of individuals, but if you are one of these people, this medication could prove to be a blessing. If you have been through the ringer of standard antidepressants such as SSRI’s and haven’t responded well – this may be a medication to consider.

Strattera for ADHD with Depression

Perhaps Strattera may be best in addressing ADHD with comorbid symptoms of depression. Many people with ADHD also have depression as a result of their condition. Both ADHD and depression are linked with a lower level of mental arousal. Since Strattera works to increase brain activity by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine, it should be obvious that some individuals are going to experience relief from depression.

Psychiatrists will prescribe you this medication as long as you fit the diagnostic criteria for ADHD – as this is what the drug was approved to treat. It may really help with the low energy and lack of productivity associated with depression. Many people find this particular medication to have a stimulating effect – which addresses the low arousal that accompanies depression.

If you are going to try this drug to treat depression, you should understand that it may not work and/or may poop out. However for the individuals that it works for – it tends to work very well. It could even be considered as an antidepressant augmentation strategy. Unfortunately most doctors will be quicker to prescribe something like a mood stabilizer and/or antipsychotic before they would try to augment a safer medication like Strattera.

In theory an SNRI would likely have a similar effect as an SSRI and an NRI like Strattera, but different medications yield different results. You would need to find a pretty liberal psychiatrist to try this medication just for your depression and/or anxiety.  This is due to the fact that a standalone NRI like Strattera has not been proven to provide antidepressant relief like other medications.  If you requested a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, Nortriptyline would be a more studied and valid medication to try.

Have you tried Strattera with depression and/or anxiety?

If you have tried Strattera while you were suffering from depression, did it help? It would be beneficial to hear from people that have used this drug while they were depressed to understand what they felt. Certain individuals have reported that it made them more depressed and angry. Others have found that it made them more productive, focused, and really turned their life around for the better.

The nice thing about this particular medication is that it’s relatively safe and well tolerated compared to most SSRI’s and SNRI’s and isn’t associated with any major withdrawal symptoms. Further research needs to be conducted with this particular medication to determine whether it could be effective at reducing symptoms of depression.


  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC427606/
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16113620/
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16259536/
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10703757

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11 thoughts on “Strattera (Atomoxetine) For Depression: Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors”

  1. Strattera has helped enormously with the depression. I’m about 6 weeks into it, at a dosage of 25mg every morning. I feel functional. This is along with pristiq and zyprexa. I’ve been having a good time just with day to day life again.

  2. I have treatment resistant depression that was diagnosed over 20 years ago. None of the SSRIs worked for me. The only medication that had any positive effect was desipramine a tricyclic. When it failed me due to a contraindication with another medication (birth control pills) I ended up in the hospital.

    A very forward thinking psychiatrist put me on Strattera because it was pharmacologically like desipramine (I had hallucinations on Nortriptyline). It worked like a charm and was on it as my main antidepressant for over 10 years. I went off my meds for two years.

    I now need to go back on my meds and my new psychiatrist is afraid to prescribe Strattera at the higher dose required as an antidepressant. I’m not sure how to convince him that this is one of the two drugs that work on my depression.

  3. Hello All, I took this medication for about a year and it was GREAT! I took it for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. It was as if the old me was back. I was happy, productive, confident and my irritability was gone. I have heard that this medication does not work for all but it did for me. I had been prescribed multiple medications in many classes of mental health medications with little to no results and many negative side effects.

    I did not get any side effects besides positive one’s from Strattera. I have been off of mental health med’s for a few years now but am starting to feel as though I need something again. I am asking to be put back on the Strattera due to the fact that it was the only medication that I have ever taken that did anything good for me. I wish you all well.

  4. I just started this medicine however throughout the very first day I could tell a huge positive difference in my mood. This helps with my anxiety and depression. We will see if it works for my ADHD in the next couple weeks cuz it’s gotta kick in but it seems to be a wonderful drug, except the high price tag due to no generic version of the medicine. However it truly has helped me. I didn’t know I could get so happy because I was so used to dealing with my anxiety and depression that I forgot what it felt like to not have those terrible feelings throughout the day.

  5. Hi I have a 13 your old daughter that suffers from ODD, depression and autism she has been on strattera slow release for about 2 years 60ml a day. I was just wondering if the medication works for depression as I’ve been told it doesn’t. If it doesn’t that would make sense as she has more bad days than good. Thank you in advance.

  6. From the first day it has done wonders for my anxiety and depression. On my 5th day and still going well although the only drawback is I will have to find a way around the insomnia.

  7. I was in the depressed and angry camp :(. It made me feel really similar to how I felt on Cymbalta (another SNRI worked well on depression for years, then I think swung me into desperate/suicidal, even though it quelled the weepiness. I switched for SE reasons, but in retrospect I think the effect really did change negative).

    Did the stop, wait, restart challenge with Strattera and was convinced. I’m an adult, so my FP doc and Psychiatrist tell me the black box shouldn’t apply to me… but really all they have to judge my wellness on is what I tell them, so I wish they weren’t so skeptical. Perhaps my norepinephrine needs just changed or body adjusted…

  8. This has helped me not only help me focus and get tasks done, but also handle stress and depression. I see things that in the past, I would of exploded in anger. I could not afford this medicine unless it was for the V.A. They need to make this medicine way cheaper for people to afford. I believe that it totally be one of the best mood and focus stabilizers than all of these other pills that have serious side effects.

  9. I’ve been on strattera for one year, and it definitely cured my depression, and I’m not kidding, it also helped me with my adhd symptoms as well. I love this medication!

  10. I tried straterra for the first time today…I’ve ruled out a placebo effect, but I think I just found the cure for my depression! :’)


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